The Search for a Dean of Graduate Programs

Nebraska Wesleyan University invites applications and nominations for its next dean of graduate programs. The dean will report to the provost and will lead the administration and expansion of NWU’s graduate programs.

To receive full consideration, materials should be received on or before May 14, 2018.

About Nebraska Wesleyan University

Nebraska Wesleyan University is a thriving comprehensive, liberal arts-based institution with 2,000 students. It achieves remarkable results with modest resources. Its academic programs are rooted in an enduring commitment to excellence, a belief in the power of personal attention, teaching and learning, and a strong tradition of shared governance.

Chartered by Methodists in 1887, Nebraska Wesleyan has an ongoing, beneficial relationship today with the United Methodist Church. The University welcomed its first class of 96 male and female students in 1888, taught by a faculty of eight in a single building. In its early years, the University grew to include a college of liberal arts, a music conservatory, schools of art, business and education, and an elementary and secondary school. During the 1930s and 1940s, NWU eliminated the various schools, closed its pre-collegiate programs, and reorganized as an undergraduate liberal arts college. It built its first residence hall in 1948; until then students had boarded in homes in the surrounding University Place neighborhood. Today there are a dozen modern residence halls and all traditional undergraduates whose homes are not in Lincoln and vicinity are expected to live on campus through the junior year.

Adult and graduate education reentered the picture at NWU gradually over the past 40 years. In the late 1970s, a small beginning was made with courses offered to adults through the Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning. In 2000, Nebraska Wesleyan began expanding its academic offerings to include a limited number of graduate degrees. In 2004, Nebraska Wesleyan opened an instructional site in Omaha, Neb. where it offers adult and graduate programs. In 2014, the University relocated its Omaha site to a spacious 12,000 square foot location.

NWU also conducts the Wesleyan Honors Academy. It gives high school juniors and seniors opportunities to earn college credits by enrolling in courses taught by masters-degree holding high school teachers who are adjunct members of the Nebraska Wesleyan faculty. Nebraska Wesleyan offers five baccalaureate degrees (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing) and four master’s degrees—Master of Business Administration (since 2014), Master of Education (since 2016), Master of Science in Nursing (since 2000), and a joint MSN/MBA (since 2014).

Nebraska Wesleyan has been continuously accredited since 1914 by the Higher Learning Commission. Academic programs are accredited or approved by the following professional bodies:

  • Athletic Training: Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)
  • Chemistry: American Chemical Society (ACS)
  • Education: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and approved by the Nebraska Department of Education
  • Music: National Association of Schools of Music (NASM)
  • Nursing: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Social Work: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

For many years U.S. News & World Report recognized Nebraska Wesleyan as the state’s top liberal arts institution. In 2016, Nebraska Wesleyan moved to the Regional Universities-Midwest category in light of its recent growth as a comprehensive university. In that U.S. News category, NWU ranks 16th among 165 institutions. Nebraska Wesleyan has also been recognized favorably by The Princeton Review, Forbes, Colleges of Distinction and Washington Monthly, as well as being named a military-friendly school.

NWU’s commitment to academic excellence and personal attention to students is consistently reflected in the strength and accomplishments of its gifted faculty, including three who have been named the Carnegie Foundation “Teacher of the Year” in Nebraska. The full-time faculty numbers approximately 110. Ninety-two percent of them hold the terminal degree appropriate to their field. With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1 and an average class size of 19, the University is known for a rigorous and nurturing learning environment, enhanced by the faculty’s deserved reputation for unusually effective teaching and mentoring.

NWU’s emphasis on experience yields extraordinary student outcomes: two Rhodes scholars (most recently in 2006), 56 Fulbright awards (Nebraska’s top producer of them), six Truman scholars and seven Goldwater scholars. Two-thirds of all NWU graduates go on to graduate or professional school within five years of graduation. Over the past 15 years, NWU boasts 81% medical school and 86% dental school acceptance rates.

Overall, Nebraska Wesleyan University enrolls 2,000 students, with about three quarters of them being traditionally-aged full-time undergraduates. Students choose from 51 majors, 46 minors and 17 pre-professional programs. The general education Archway Curriculum ensures that every student has an experience-rich education through internships, research projects, service learning, or study abroad. Many of NWU students double major or triple minor and still graduate in four years or less.

Among more than 90 student-run organizations are six fraternities and sororities. Global Service Learning is the nation’s only entirely student-led global service learning group.

Nebraska Wesleyan’s athletic program has a rich tradition of excellence. Twenty-one varsity sports are offered (11 for men, 10 for women). About 30 percent of traditional students compete in intercollegiate athletics. NWU student-athletes compete in NCAA Division III. In 2016, NWU joined the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Prairie Wolves have celebrated many conference wins and two NCAA national championships: in 2006 in men’s golf, and in 2018 in men’s basketball. The University is a nationally-recognized leader in academics and athletics, ranking eighth in the nation (among all divisions) for Academic All-Americans and sixth in the nation for NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. Many students participate in an intramural program with 22 individual and team options.

Located in the University Place neighborhood with its own community feel, NWU’s campus features the striking Richardsonian architecture of the University’s original building, Old Main (1887). An architecturally-eclectic group of academic and performance halls, modern student residences, and well-equipped athletic facilities are situated on the 50-acre urban campus amid spacious lawns. NWU will open a $29 million, 84,000 square foot science center in early 2019 to house the programs in biology, chemistry and psychology. The new science center will embrace NWU’s emphasis on experience, providing greater opportunity for dynamic, hands-on learning environments, collaboration between academic departments and open and visible laboratory spaces.

Nebraska Wesleyan regularly balances its operating budget, typically with a small margin. The University operates with approximately $40 million of revenues net of financial aid. The endowment is $56 million as of 5/31/17. Long-term bonded debt is $16 million. Standard and Poor’s has awarded Nebraska Wesleyan an A- Stable credit rating. The Board of Governors and administration have long taken a conservative approach to institutional finances.

About Lincoln, Nebraska

Nebraska Wesleyan’s Lincoln location brings with it an inviting combination of opportunity and energy. With a population of 265,000, Nebraska’s capital city has been dubbed a “Silicon Prairie” for its many high-tech startup firms. The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) has named Lincoln a top college city in the U.S. and a top place for college graduates to work. Lincoln is home to excellent healthcare facilities and advanced medical resources. The city has a rich cultural life with theaters, museums and art galleries, 6,000 acres of public parks, and extensive outdoor opportunities.

Areas Of Excellence

Academic excellence is at the core of a Nebraska Wesleyan University, as stated in the university’s mission.  Excellence “in all aspects of academic endeavor” is one of its six core values, and evident in countless areas of the institution. For example, pre-medical studies have been a hallmark of the institution for many decades; the theatre arts program has experienced remarkable growth over the last 10 years; music combines progression with strong tradition. There is a wide-ranging global studies emphasis, anchored by an exceptional sabbatical option of full salary for a full year to any professor who leaves the country for that period. Graduate programs at Nebraska Wesleyan are also defined by both excellence and innovation. NWU offers the region’s only joint degree MSN/MBA program, with graduate preparation in business administration for nursing leaders. The Master of Education in curriculum and instruction rejuvenates great teachers and helps them build classrooms where doing well and being well come together. MBA students partner with local entrepreneurs to develop business plans, last year resulting in increased profits, new client skills and a new business launch for the community partners.

Archway Curriculum

Nebraska Wesleyan’s general education program, the Archway Curriculum, integrates learning across disciplinary boundaries, enhances learning through non-classroom experiences, and weaves skill development throughout the academic program. Throughout the Archway Curriculum, all undergraduate students are exposed to a broad range of topics and perspectives, enhancing their understanding of the world.

The Archway Curriculum has five components:

  1. The First-Year Curriculum includes the Archway Seminar and First-Year Writing. In their Archway Seminar, first-year students explore an interdisciplinary topic while being introduced to the intellectual practices that must be cultivated and routinely exercised to make the most of a liberal education.
  2. The Foundational Literacies include Modern Language Literacy, Mathematical Problem Solving, Science Investigations, and Creative and Performing Arts.
  3. The centerpiece of the Archway Curriculum is the Integrative Core, which prepares students to confront the multifaceted challenges that face them as members of a diverse and global society. The Integrative Core comprises several groups of courses, or “threads,” centered around a theme or “big question.”
  4. The Essential Connections include courses that are Writing-Instructive, Discourse- and Speaking-Instructive, and Diversity-Instructive.
  5. Experiential Learning may include independent research, internships, service learning, peer mentor or leadership roles, and study away.

The American Association of Colleges and Universities heralds The Archway Curriculum as a progressive model of liberal learning for the 21st century.

Graduate Studies

As Nebraska Wesleyan University looks toward the future, graduate studies have been recognized as a key area for growth. Nebraska Wesleyan seeks to provide master’s level education in subjects where there is a good opportunity for vertical integration with existing strengths in the undergraduate program.

Currently Nebraska Wesleyan offers four master’s degrees, both in both Lincoln and Omaha. The programs enroll about 250 graduate students.

  • The Master of Science in Nursing has been offered since 2000. The program offers an administrative tract and an education tract.  Graduate students learn advanced nursing concepts, theories, and research along with applied ethics and multicultural patient care practices.
  • Since 2014, with the introduction of the MSN/MBA program, students have been able to extend their nursing studies and attain a combined graduate degree in nursing science and business administration.
  • The Master of Business Administration, introduced in 2014, prepares students to analyze problems and develop strategic solutions; make decisions in an ethical and socially responsible manner; and innovate in an evolving global environment.  The MBA engages students in the real-world application of business knowledge and skills; provides opportunities for networking with and mentoring by business professionals; and facilitates personal interaction with faculty and peers. Nebraska Wesleyan University’s MBA program stays relevant to current industry needs by engaging today’s business leaders in the classroom. The program is designed to be flexible and personalized to help students succeed at work and home.
  • The Master of Education in curriculum and instruction, introduced in 2016, aims to help educators become master teachers. To that end, the MEd program focuses on pedagogical excellence, action research in the classroom, and applying the concepts associated with positive psychology (e.g., resilience, increased positive emotion) to educational practices. Students are expected to identify a problem of practice and conduct an intervention to gain insight into this issue..

Plans are underway to offer a Master of Social Work beginning in the summer of 2019. The MSW program will offer prospective students two unique specializations: clinical trauma-informed practice and leadership/supervision. The program will also be attractive to working adults with an accelerated evening class format.

NWU is in the planning stages of a Master’s of Athletic Training. It is anticipated that further master’s degrees will be added at a rate of one every two years.

Mentorship programs, networking opportunities, research and accomplished faculty are a major focus of NWU graduate programs.  For example, MBA students partner with regional business leaders, each learning from a proven mentor in their area of interest. MEd students are paired with a research coach to identify a problem of practice in their classroom and design research to find effective solutions.  Nearly all full-time nursing faculty have doctoral degrees, bringing more expertise, experience and commitment to the classroom. Faculty include the Nebraska Nursing Association’s 2016 Nurse Educator of the Year and the March of Dimes’ 2017 Nebraska Nurse of the Year.

Nebraska Wesleyan graduate students take classes once a week, in face-to-face and hybrid formats.  Classes are offered in 5- and 8-week sessions, in both Lincoln and Omaha. There are multiple start dates throughout the year to provide students the flexibility to balance school, work and family life.

The Leadership Opportunity

The dean of graduate programs is a new position and reflects the University’s strong commitment to expand current and add new graduate programs as a key strategy in serving new educational markets and growing the University’s total student enrollment. The dean will report to the provost, work closely with the dean of undergraduate programs, associate provost and graduate program directors, and serve as an advisor on graduate education for the president and the administrative council. In addition, the dean will be expected to work collaboratively with academic leaders and faculty across campus to expand and develop programs, and to explore alternative modes of delivery.  While the dean’s primary focus will be graduate education, the dean will also play an important role in exploring new undergraduate program initiatives and program delivery strategies.

Working across the academic sector of the University, the new dean will seek to optimize the collaboration among academic departments and related program units of the university. This position will play a significant role in envisioning and executing the university’s goal to grow its student body by enhancing its graduate and online offerings, and building a more national reputation.  The new dean’s portfolio will include the following specific responsibilities:

Provide the innovative spirit, energy and collaborative leadership required for building the University’s graduate programs and a stronger graduate culture at NWU.

Develop and implement distinctive graduate programs, including online programs, in collaboration with other members of the Academic Affairs office and other departments.

Oversee/conduct the market research necessary to assess the feasibility of new program offerings, as well as the possible expansion of existing programs.

Prepare financial models and projections to evaluate ROI on proposed and existing programs.

Oversee graduate curriculum, policies, and procedures, in consultation with the Graduate Curriculum and Standards Committee.

Represent graduate programs at NWU and in the larger community arenas – serve as a spokesperson for the University’s growing graduate education investment and presence.

Provide leadership for graduate program accreditation efforts and conduct formal reviews of graduate programs to assure program effectiveness and quality.

Support graduate admissions efforts, work with colleagues to integrate support services, and interact with graduate students during their time at the University.

Foster a culture of transparent and consistent communication with faculty, staff, and university and community partners.

Work with academic leaders and faculty as they develop distinctive undergraduate programs and explore new modes of program delivery.

Desired Attributes For Leadership

Nebraska Wesleyan is seeking a dean of graduate programs who is excited by the mission of the University as a private, faith-based University grounded in the liberal arts, and by the University’s commitment to increase its graduate offerings and grow its total student enrollment.  It is expected that the person chosen to fill this important new leadership role will be an accomplished educational professional with a track record of success as a faculty member and academic leader.  The position requires that the dean holds a Ph.D., or equivalent terminal degree, in an academic area offered by the University, and a record of excellence in teaching, scholarship and service commensurate with appointment at the rank of associate professor. 

Beyond these foundational requirement, the experiences and attributes that will be used in evaluating applications for this position includes the following:

  1. COMMITMENT TO THE MISSION of Nebraska Wesleyan University, and excitement about the task of leading the University’s development and growth in graduate education.
  2. AN EXPERIENCED ACADEMIC LEADER who has served effectively as a faculty member, and who has completed a minimum of four years as department chair, program director, or assistant/associate dean.
  3. A CREATIVE AND COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHP STYLE evidenced by a track record of successful work with faculty and administrative colleagues in developing and accomplishing major projects.
  4. GRADUATE PROGRAM experience, including teaching at the graduate level and, preferably, experience in the administration of existing, and the development of new, graduate offerings.
  5. ONLINE AND/OR BLENDED PROGRAM experience that may include teaching, as well as the development and successful implementation of new online and/or blended programs.
  6. ACADEMIC PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT skills and abilities that include high energy, creativity and innovative thinking, as well as a broad knowledge of academic programs and the changing educational marketplace.
  7. KNOWLEDGE OF MARKET RESEARCH approaches and strategies, and the data analytics necessary to evaluate the feasibility and likely success of new program initiatives.
  8. FINANCIAL PLANNING AND BUDGETING EXPERIENCE necessary to project the costs/revenues of proposed academic programs as well as monitoring the costs and returns of established programs.
  9. MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP SKILLS that include exceptional organization, administration, communication and interpersonal skills.  A capacity to understand and relate effectively within the culture of Nebraska Wesleyan will be essential to the dean’s success.


Nebraska Wesleyan University provides equal educational and employment opportunities to qualified persons in all areas of university operation without regard to religion or creed, age, genetic information, gender identity and expression, sexual identity and orientation, veteran status, disability, marital status, race, or national or ethnic origin, in compliance with state and federal laws, including but not limited to Title XII, Title IX, and the ADA. E-Verify, EOE.

The Process Of Candidacy

Nominations and expressions of interest may be submitted electronically to:

Graciela Caneiro-Livingston, Provost
Chair, Dean of Graduate Programs Search Committee
Nebraska Wesleyan University
nwugraduatedean [at]

Candidates are asked to submit electronically in MS Word or Adobe PDF: (1) a letter of interest that directly addresses the leadership opportunities outlined in the profile above, (2) a CV and (3) the names, email addresses and telephone numbers of five references. References will not be contacted without first securing the permission of the candidate. To receive full consideration, materials should be received on or before May 14, 2018.

This search is being assisted by:

Loren J. Anderson, Ph.D.
Executive Search Consultant
AGB Search
Cell: (253) 223-3566 l
loren.anderson [at]